Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About the Bible
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In a world where everyone's opinion is considered equally valid, Christian beliefs are under attack. More than ever, we need to stand firm on the clear teaching of God's word. And over the next several weeks, we're going to dig into 10 core beliefs that can anchor your faith to solid ground. Today we'll start with the most foundational doctrine of all, the inspiration of the Bible. My message is titled, "What Every Christian Should Know About the Bible", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
The Bible uses many different metaphors to describe the church, and the church is referred to as the body of Christ or the bride of Christ or the vineyard or the sheep fold. But to me, one of the most intriguing images of the church is found in one Timothy 3:15 where Paul refers to the church as the pillar and the support of the truth. In Paul's day, great architectural structures were supported by columns or pillars and Paul is saying that the church is that pillar, that supporting instrument, that lifts up the truth of God for a darkening and decaying world. Over the next 10 weeks we're going to be looking at the 10 pillars, the columns, that support historic Christianity.
What would we know about Jesus Christ apart from the Bible? I mean, yes, there are some historical documents that mention Jesus outside of the Bible, but we would know nothing about the deity of Christ, were it not for the Bible. The Bible records his miracles. We wouldn't know that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of our sins, would know he died on a cross but we wouldn't know why, apart from the Bible, and we certainly would not know that Jesus Christ is coming back again one day, were it not for the scripture. Everything we know about Jesus comes from the Bible and if there is a crack in that pillar, that column, then the whole Christian faith comes crumbling down.
So today we're going to answer the question: how can I know the Bible is the Word of God? We're going to talk about the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Have you ever wondered, as you've read the Bible, how do I know this actually happened? How do I know this is true? What is it that separates the Bible from the Koran or the Book of Mormon or any other religious book? Well, let's look first at three reasons we can trust the Bible. First of all, the Bible is inspired. Thomas Edison famously said one time, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Well, the apostle Peters said famously the Bible is 100% inspiration.
That passage we read just a moment ago says that in 2 Peter 1:21, for no prophecy of scripture was ever made by an act of the human will but then moved, carry along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. Peter, Paul, Luke, Moses, David. They didn't wake up one morning and say, you know, I think I'll spend an hour writing some scripture today. No scripture was not initiated by an act of the human will. God is the one who inspired the Bible and he carried along those human authors to record his message. Inspiration is the process by which God communicates his message without error using the personalities of men to compose and record God's message without error.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, for all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. You've heard me say many times that, that word inspired is the Greek word Theos nusas all scripture is Theos God, nusas breathe. It is God breathed, and as Dr. Crystal used to say, and God doesn't have bad breath. He doesn't suffer from halitosis. Every word of the Bible is God breathed and think about how God did that. It's just so miraculously, God's message was poured through the human personalities of authors. God's message includes the angry outbursts of Moses, the emotional outburst of king David. It includes the systematic reasoning of the apostle Paul. It even includes the lies of Satan written in Genesis 3.
If anybody ask you are there any lies in the Bible, don't let 'em trick you. Yes, there are some lies in the Bible. Satan's lie to eve, you shall not die if you eat of this tree, was a lie, but God wanted us to hear that lie as well. God inspired the scripture. He breathed the scripture. Secondly, not only is the Bible God breathed inspired. Secondly, the Bible is unified. It's unified. The Bible, when you think about it, is the ultimate group project. Think about this. It was written by over 40 different authors, over a period of 1500 years. Authors came from various countries. Most of them didn't know one another. They used a variety of styles, some wrote history, some law, some poetry, some biography, and some personal correspondence, and yet it all fit together perfectly. It has one unified theme and that theme is Jesus Christ. The Bible is inspired, it's unified.
Thirdly, the Bible is inerrant. It is inerrant. Now, you hear that word a lot. Maybe you don't know what it means. It simply means the Bible is without error. Now, there are some critics, some skeptics today, who think the whole doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible is something new. It's something recent. It was conjured up by a bunch of evil old men in the southern Baptist convention, who wanted to take over the convention, so they invented this idea of inerrancy. Anybody who says that is ignorant beyond description, doesn't deserve to be listened to. You look at history, the inerrancy of the scripture has always been a foundational belief of the church. First of all, the scripture itself testifies to its own inerrancy. Hundreds of times you find in the Old Testament passages containing a variation of this phrase, the Lord said. The Lord said, look at Exodus 21. God spoke all of these words. Isaiah 1:2, for the Lord speaks. Jeremiah 1, to whom the word of the Lord came.
One of the most interesting examples of that is found in Psalm 95 verse 7. The Psalmist said, today if you would hear his voice. Now, those words were written in about a 1000 BC. We don't know for sure which Psalmist said it, but it's in the scripture. Today if you would hear his voice, more than a thousand years after that in the first century AD, the writer of the New Testament, book of Hebrews, quotes Psalm 95:7 but notice how he quotes it in Hebrews 3:7. He said, therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says in other words what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 95:7, the writer of Hebrews is saying, it was the Holy Spirit who was actually writing those words. The Bible claims to be inerrant. When you read the Bible, you can know you're reading truth and not error. Well, a discerning mind would say, well, you've just tried to use the Bible to prove the Bible is true. That's circular reasoning.
Is there any evidence outside of the Bible that it is God breathed and without error? I'm so glad you asked that question because on your outline I have four evidences for the trustworthiness of the Bible. Let me briefly go through them with you. First of all, the dates of the New Testament book. It wasn't that long ago. I remember in college and hearing this that critics of the Bible, in fact, most people believe that the New Testament books were written 100 to 150 years after the fact of Jesus birth, death, and resurrection, and that the gospel accounts were just fraudulent names, slapped onto the gospel, attributing them to an earlier apostle but now even the most liberal critics concede because of archeological manuscript discoveries that most of the New Testament was written between 40 and 65 AD. That means many of the books of the New Testament were written within a decade of the events of Christ.
Mark, the earliest gospel, just a few years after the resurrection of Christ. Why is that important? Why does that give us confidence in the trustworthiness of the Bible? Because when these books came out and started being circulated, there were people who were alive when these events, the gospels referred to took place, and so if these books were fictional, made up, not trustworthy, they would've been discarded immediately. Instead, they were accepted and treated as scripture. Corresponding to that, secondly, the early acceptance of the message. Not only did these New Testament books record these events but apparently the earliest followers of Christ believed them so much, they were willing to give their lives for these beliefs.
Remember, most of the New Testament converts, early converts, were Jews, and notice how quickly they changed their belief system. I mean, almost overnight, they changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. They gave up the sacrificial system. They exchanged the act of circumcision, the Mark of faith. They replaced that with baptism. All of these seismic changes, showed that they actually believed what they were writing and proclaiming. You know, it's true religious zealots throughout history have given their lives for false beliefs but the key is they thought it was the truth. No religious zealot intentionally gives his life for what he believes is a lie. The point is the disciples were willing to endure imprisonment, torture and death rather than recant the testimony that they had seen the risen Christ.
A third evidence that's external for the inspiration of the scripture, is the fulfilled prophecies that the Bible records. Prophecies from the Old Testament that came true in history. Look at all of the fulfilled prophecies in the life of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, there were 61 major prophecies about the Messiah, his place of birth the manner of birth, his teaching, his crucifixion, his resurrection, being buried in a rich man's tomb, being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. All of these things were prophesied in the Old Testament hundreds of years in some cases a thousand years before the fact. That's one of the reasons we trust the Bible because of fulfilled prophecies.
Fourth, archeological discoveries. These are external evidences that the Bible can be trusted, archeological discoveries. Can you prove every event in the Old Testament through archeology? Of course not, but here's the important point. There's nothing been discovered in archeology that does anything except confirm the Bible. Now, again, a discerning mind would say, well, now Robert when you talk about the Bible is inspired without error, you're always careful to say, in the original manuscripts, but we don't have the original manuscripts today. How can we know that the Bible we have today which is a translation and a copy, how do we know it's accurate and reliable?
Let me share with you, three ways we know the Bible we have is reliable. First of all, the accuracy of the copies. Now, people say this whole debate of inerrancy if it's just related to original manuscripts and we don't have manuscripts, then it's irrelevant, but think about that, how ludicrous that is. If the original has errors in it then what are the chances the copies will be without error? Zero. If you have an errant original then you can't have an inerrant copy but if the originals were without error then there's the possibility that over thousands of years the copies have remained without error as well, and there's great testimony that that's in fact what has happened. The accuracy of the copies is phenomenal.
Secondly, the high standard for inclusion. How did we know that we got the right books in the Bible? Have you ever wondered that? People would make you think, oh, there's some great debate about what books belong in the Bible? Not at all. The 39 books of the Old Testament were verified as scripture. Some of them, as soon as they were written, like the 10 commandments, between 250 and 150 BC, we have the first Greek translation of the Old Testament, the septuagint, which means by 250 BC it was settled. Jesus affirmed every book of the Old Testament as scripture. There's equal reason to believe the 27 books of the New Testament are the ones that ought to be there. To be in the New Testament, a book had to be written by an apostle or supervised by an apostle, and in spite of what you hear from the Da Vinci Code and the other movies and books, that would have you to believe that there's great controversy over which books belong in the Bible.
There has been no serious attempt to add any books to the New Testament since their approval. 393 AD was the council of hippo that technically affirmed the books of the New Testament, but we know from the church fathers that it was actually a subtle matter many years before that. Have you ever heard about contradictions in the Bible? Well, pastor, you say the Bible's inspired and inerrant, what about all of the contradictions in the Bible? Most times what is alleged to be a contradiction is simply a differing account of a same story. You find that in the gospels, you find paraphrases of Jesus words. You can trust that the Bible is telling the truth.
Now, here's the real question. What does all of this mean to me? You know, if we believe that the Bible is inerrant, inspired, properly canonized that there's no more truth being written, Jude 1:3 says the faith has been once for all delivered to the faith. What does that mean to me? If we stop here, all we have is a reliable historical document but the Bible is much more than that. The Bible is God's message to us and let me tell you what the inspiration and inspiration of the scripture and inerrancy of the scripture mean to us today, why it's important. First of all, because the Bible is God's word. The Bible frees us to live a God-honoring life.
In Hebrews 4:12, the writer says for the Word of God is living, it's active, it is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces as far as the division of the soul and spirit above both joints and marrow. The Bible is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of a heart. You know, in this world, we are all bound up in a wrong way of thinking that leads to wrong behavior. As a man, as a person thinks in his heart, so is he. If we believe that freedom comes from disobeying God then we're bound up in misery. If we believe that we're responsible for our own wellbeing then we're bound up in anxiety and worry. If we believe that money is the key to happiness we're bound up in greed. If we believe retaliation is the best response to wrongdoing, then we're bound up in bitterness, but the Bible is that giant sword that cuts through our wrong thinking that leads to a miserable life, it frees us to live the life that God wants us to lead.
Secondly, the Bible guides us. If you're a Christian today, you want to know God's will for your life. God uses his word to reveal his will. In Psalm 32:8, the Psalmist said, I will instruct you and teach you in the way in which you should go. I will counsel you with my eyes upon you. David said in the 119th Psalm verse 105, your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. God's word isn't a floodlight that shows us what to do for the next 30 years or 50 years. It is a flashlight, that gives us the illumination we need, all we need to take that next step and to follow God. And finally, not only does the Bible free us and guide us, the Bible inspires us. It lifts us beyond our present circumstances to see God's view of the world and our lives as well.
You know, frankly, we sometimes read the Bible and we think how does this relate to me? Hear these strange names I can't even pronounce of people who do some really weird things and have weird customs? How am I supposed to relate to that? The unifying element in the Bible is not the people or the customs, it's God. And the Bible reminds us just as God was faithful to work out his will and the lives of those strange people, who lived thousands of years ago, who did strange things, God is also working in my life, in your life, to work out his plan. God is the unifying theme, in Jeremiah 1:12 the Lord said to Jeremiah, you have seen well for I am watching over my word to perform it.
Ladies and gentlemen, God is going to perform his word in your life, not just in the world in general, but in your life specifically and the Bible inspires us by reminding us of that. If you've listened to me for any period of time, you know that one of my great historical heroes was Dwight Lyman Moody. D.L. Moody, the great evangelist from the 19th century, the founder of the Moody Bible institute.
One time D.L. Moody explained how his faith began to grow exponentially. He said, I prayed for faith and thought that somehow faith would come down and strike me like lightning, but faith didn't come that way. One day I read the 10th chapter of Romans. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now open my Bible and begin to study and faith has been growing ever since. Are you ready for your faith to start growing? Look, it's one thing to take the Bible literally. That's great, but we need to take the Bible seriously as well. If we take it seriously and realize it's God's message to us. The best investment of our life is to study the Word of God to search the unsearchable riches of the Word of God and to apply God's timeless wisdom to our lives today. That's what every Christian should know about the Bible.